Safe discharge of elderly patients scheme in Wales set to be extended

Author: Caroline White
Safe discharge of elderly patients scheme in Wales set to be extended

A pilot scheme in Wales that helps older people to be safely discharged from hospital, stay in their own homes, and prevent readmissions, has been extended into the autumn, it has been announced.

The Hospital to Healthier Homes scheme, a Welsh government and National Programme for Unscheduled Care collaborative project, was originally funded as part of £4m allocated to support health services over the winter period by testing new models of care.

It ran from 10 hospitals across Wales during the winter to enable vulnerable older people to be safely discharged to their own homes, with a focus on preventing re-admissions by assessing the ‘health’ of people’s homes.

A dedicated case worker based at each site facilitates practical adaptations to a patient’s home so that the person can be safely discharged from hospital.

The case workers can also offer practical support and advice on issues such as access to financial support older people need to help them age well, as well as referring patients at risk of isolation or loneliness to local community clubs or groups.

The pilot received over 600 referrals between mid-January and the end of March, providing 628 home improvements and facilitating 320 means tested benefit assessments.

Following the emerging success of the scheme, the minister for health and social services, Vaughan Gething has approved the extension for a further six months until September 2019, with a £170,000 fund to participating Local Health Boards.

The minister for housing and local government, Julie James, has also approved another £200,000 of capital funding to support the extension.

Vaughan Gething said the service had had an immediate and positive impact on patients, relatives and staff.

“Supporting older people to be quickly discharged and made comfortable safely in their own homes, allowing them to live as independently as possible, is of benefit to all individuals and services involved.

“A real benefit of the scheme has been the opportunity for case workers to ‘make every contact count’. They have used their time with people in their homes to talk about issues like warm home measures, falls prevention or connection with local community groups to help support wellbeing.”

The scheme directly complements ‘A Healthier Wales’ vision for creating seamless models of care and highlights the importance of collaborative, cross sector working, he added. 

Julie James said that even small adaptations helped people to maintain their independence, getting them back home, and reducing hospital discharge delays.

“This can then relieve pressure on emergency departments, alleviating pressure on the NHS while also helping people to live for longer in their own homes,” she said.